Home sales decreased 9.6 percent in February in California compared with the same period a year ago, but prices continued to climb and new evidence emerged that the worst of the slump may possibly be in the past, according to a report issued today by the California Association of Realtors. Median prices increased 5.7 percent, the trade organization said. “Sales in February were at their highest level in eight months, posting their smallest year-to-year decline in 14 months,� said CAR president Colleen Badagliacco. “Next month's report could tell a different story since sales last year peaked in March. Looking forward, we are likely to see smaller year-to-year declines as we enter the traditional buying season. Homes that are well maintained and are priced to reflect the realities of today's market will continue to sell.� Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 464,560 in February at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, according to information collected by the CAR from more than 90 local realtor associations statewide. Statewide home resale activity decreased 9.6 percent from the 513,740 sales pace recorded in February 2006. The statewide sales figure represents what the total number of homes sold during 2007 would be if sales maintained the February pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales. The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California during February 2007 was $564,700, a 5.7 percent increase over the revised $534,400 median for February 2006, the CAR reported. The February 2007 median price increased 1 percent compared with January's revised $559,300 median price. “Statewide, the number of homes for sale increased slightly in February and remain just above the long-run average,� said ice president Leslie Appleton-Young. “The unsold inventory index stood at 8.8 months in February, compared with 8.3 months in January, with the San Francisco Bay Area continuing to experience leaner inventory levels compared with Southern California and the state as a whole.�